The kingdom is burning Russian fuel to free up its own oil for export. Part of the import goes directly, part – through Egypt and the UAE
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter , more than doubled imports of Russian fuel oil in the second quarter for its power plants to meet demand for summer air-conditioning in buildings and free up the kingdom’s own oil for export supplies, data showed and traders said.
Russia is selling fuel at cut prices after international sanctions over its special forces operation in Ukraine left it with fewer buyers.
The increase in sales of fuel oil used to generate electricity to Saudi Arabia shows the challenge US President Joe Biden faces as his administration seeks to isolate Russia and cut its energy export earnings.
While many countries have banned or discouraged purchases from Russia, China, India and several African and Middle Eastern countries have increased imports.
Biden was on a visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday and was expected to push for more oil supplies from the kingdom to world markets to help bring down oil prices that have exacerbated inflation worldwide.
Saudi Arabia and other countries have little spare capacity to increase production in the short term. Saudi Arabia also maintains cooperation with Russia through an alliance of global producers known as OPEC+. The two are the de facto leaders of OPEC and non-OPEC producers, respectively.
Data obtained by Reuters through Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking showed that Saudi Arabia imported 647,000 tons (48,000 barrels per day) of fuel oil from Russia through Russian and Estonian ports in April-June of this year. This is more than 320,000 tons for the same period a year ago.
For the whole of 2021, Saudi Arabia imported 1.05 million tons of Russian fuel oil.